TikTok has opened its first European data center to counter Western fears of surveillance-related privacy risks.
The Chinese-owned company said it has started migrating European user information to its new data center in Dublin. Two more centers are under construction, one in Norway and one in Ireland.
TikTok first announced its plan to localize European data storage in March, dubbed “Project Clover.” Full migration of the app’s 150 million users in the region is expected by the end of 2024. TikTok currently stores its global user data in Singapore, Malaysia and the United States.
The move comes in response to growing concern from Western governments and regulators who claim the Chinese government is accessing TikTok user data — which the company has denied.
Nonetheless, a number of institutions, including the European Commission, the UK Parliament and the French government, have banned the app from being used on work-related devices.
To further allay fears, the social media app has handed oversight of Project Clover to an external European cybersecurity firm, UK-based NCC Group.
NCC Group will review TikTok’s data controls and protections, monitor data flow, conduct an independent review and report any incidents.
“All of these controls and operations are designed to ensure that our European users’ data is protected in a specially designed protective environment and can only be accessed by authorized employees under strict independent oversight and review,” said Theo Bertram, TikTok vice president of public policy in Europe.